UI student remembered for selflessness, laugh, smile

From left to right: Robert Davis, 21, Emily Davis, 12 and Katie Davis, 18. Photo courtesy of the Davis family

From left to right: Robert Davis, 21, Emily Davis, 12 and Katie Davis, 18. Photo courtesy of the Davis family

By Brittany Abeijon

In the Monday, Feb. 25 edition of The Daily Illini, the article “UI student remembered for selflessness, laugh, smile,” reported senior in LAS Rob Davis’ recent case of mononucleosis depleted his white blood cell count and contributed to his ultimately fatal contraction of a Staphylococcus infection. Davis’ family has said that the mononucleosis did not contribute to his death. The Daily Illini regrets the error. Below is the story as it ran on Monday, Feb. 25.

Robert H. Davis, 21, was a senior in LAS studying integrative biology, a member of the Illini Emergency Medical Services, a member of the What You Will Shakespeare Company, an aspiring musician, a talented cook and a kid-at-heart.

Davis died at 8:49 p.m. Thursday at Silver Cross Hospital in Joliet, and according to his family, mononucleosis had depleted his white blood cell count when Davis contracted a common staphylococcus infection that his body could not fight off. Davis’ cause of death, however, has not yet been confirmed by the Will County Coroner’s Office.

Katie Davis, Rob’s sister and freshman in ACES, said it was the little things such as the way he laughed, that she would miss the most.

“We had the relationship that big brothers and little sisters have,” Katie said. “But coming to the U of I really brought us together. This past year has meant so much to me.”

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Katie said the two-hour drives going to and coming from school were something special the two shared talking about everything, such as life and music. “This year we got so much closer than ever, I could tell him anything,” she said.

Rob and Katie also have a younger sister, Emily, who is 12 years old. Katie said Rob and Emily were extremely close and their mother describes Rob and Emily as “two peas in a pod.”

Katie said Rob had recently had been working really hard on plant restoration and that he wanted to do environmental work, go to graduate school and become a professor of environmental biology.

“He just wanted to save the world,” she said.

On Feb. 16, Rob went to the emergency room at Provena Covenant Medical Center, 1400 W. Park St., Urbana, because he was complaining of neck pain. He was given pain medication and doctors did not suspect anything serious at the time.

Emily Murdoch, freshman in LAS and also a member of the What You Will Shakespeare company, and Katie took Davis back to the emergency room on Sunday after his pain did not subside.

Katie was with Rob in the emergency room and said he looked very pale, exhausted and sick, but (doctors) thought he probably had a viral infection.

“Up until Wednesday, he didn’t appear to be that sick, but then Thursday, everything took a turn for the worse,” she said.

Katie said even when he was sick, Rob just kept going, which can cause further problems with someone that contracts mononucleosis.

“He was working really hard on his classes and doing a million and a half things,” Katie said.

Currently the family is watching his favorite movies including reminiscing about his character impersonations, something he and his father enjoyed doing together. They are also sharing their favorite stories and photos of Rob.

“My favorite memories of him are just me, him and my mother all cooking together and just hanging out,” Katie said. “That’s when he was really himself, he’d tell jokes and we’d laugh like idiots,”

Murdoch considered Davis one of her best friends and created a group on Facebook as a type of memorial last Friday called, “Robert Davis – We’ll always love you.” She said Facebook is an interesting way for people to stay connected and grieve after his death.

“Lots of people are writing on his wall of things they remember about him, but that will go away, people will change statuses, but we will never stop missing him,” Murdoch said. “The group is something I’ll always come back to.”

She said she saw Davis nearly every day and considered him one of her best friends.

After Davis went to the emergency room, his parents came to Champaign last Monday and decided he was sick enough to take him home to Mokena, Ill.

Murdoch said she received a phone call Thursday night and learned that Davis was in a coma and doctors were considering performing a heart transplant.

Davis was declared dead later that night.

“Usually in this type of situation, I go to him, to cry on his shoulder,” Murdoch said. “But now that he’s not here, I don’t want to find another shoulder to cry on.”

Tuesday was the last time Murdoch and Davis spoke, and Davis said he was feeling better but he was having trouble sleeping,

Murdoch said about one week ago the What You Will Shakespeare company held a practice for “All’s Well That Ends Well” and halfway through the show, Davis suddenly got warm and dizzy and had to lay down.

Other crew members thought it was nervousness from the play or he had forgotten his lines, but “that was the start of everything,” Murdoch said.

“Honestly, I thought he had the flu,” she said. “I thought he would take a week off and come back fine.”

Caitlin Megginson, sophomore in LAS, said Davis had a very contagious smile.

“He drove two hours to take me back from winter break when my parents couldn’t,” Megginson said. “He was a great guy who would go out of his way for people.”

Megginson said during winter break she talked to Davis every day, but recently the two hadn’t talked as much, which Megginson said she really regrets.

“It’s just one of those things, you think he’s always going to be there, and then he’s not,” she said.

Megginson also described Rob as someone who loved attention.

“We used to joke about how he was a hypochondriac,” she said. “He worked on an ambulance and he thought everything was something.”

Friends of Davis are attending his wake on Tuesday, but Megginson said that “until we actually see him, (Davis’ death) doesn’t seem real to anyone yet.”

Laura Robertson, sophomore in FAA, friend and member of the What You Will Shakespeare company, said his laugh was what she will miss the most about Davis.

“He had a big booming laugh that you could probably hear from across any stadium,” she said. “He was just a good person, he had a great attitude,”

“(His aspirations) were always about being with people and caring for people,” Megginson said. “No matter what he would finally decide on, it was always for someone else.”

Funeral information:

Visitation on Feb. 26 from 3:00 to 9:00 p.m., with a prayer service on at 5:00 p.m. at Vandenburg Funeral Home in Mokena, Ill. Formal service on Thursday Feb. 28 in Mt. Zion, Ill. at Dawson & Wikoff Funeral Home with a short visitation 10:00 a.m. to 12 p.m. before the service at noon.

Burial will be at Mt. Zion Cemetery.

Courtesy of the memorial Facebook group, “Robert Davis – We’ll always love you.”